LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The revamped school lunches at Los Angeles Unified School District have won awards, commending them for improving the menu at the second largest school district in the nation. Too bad the students don’t agree.
Rejecting healthful alternatives like vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles, students are throwing them in the trash by the thousands, bringing junk food from home and buying instant noodles and other decidedly unhealthy fare from the “black markets” that have begun to thrive at campuses across the district, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The wholesale rejection to its healthy menu comes about a year after a very public food fight with TV chef Jamie Oliver. Oliver filmed a few weeks of his ABC series “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” at one LAUSD campus, but the permit was terminated abruptly.
The series’ first season featured Oliver trying to revolutionize the eating habits and food policies of Huntington, W. Va.
The district said they welcomed Oliver, but not his cameras, in an effort to avoid gimmicks, like filling a school bus with 57 tons of white sand to represent the amount of sugar LAUSD students consume weekly in flavored milk.
The kerfluffle led to LAUSD’s decision to change the menu in favor of healthier options. The district decided to do away with chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk.
Now, the Times reports cartons of plain milk are being thrown away en masse, unopened, along with uneaten entrees. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students, who are ditching lunch and are suffering from hunger-related ailments.
The complaints have been heard and LAUSD is planning changes to the menu, the Times reports. Burgers and (healthy) pizza are coming back, and dishes like quinoa salads and brown rice cutlets are out.
L.A. Unified serves 650,000 meals daily.